Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Drunk driving deaths buck trend with increase

Deaths from traffic crashes and drunk driving incidents increased slightly in Ohio in 2010 but remained lower than the 2006 total, a trend advocates credit to increased funding and awareness as they warn more progress is needed.
Overall traffic fatalities dropped 14 percent from 2006 to 2010 to 1,080, according to figures released Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of those, 341 deaths were attributed to crashes involving at least one driver with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or more, which is the benchmark for impairment. That number was down 13 percent from 2006.
The NHTSA paired Tuesday’s statistics release with an announcement about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s upcoming “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” anti-drunk driving campaign, which will run from Friday through the Labor Day holiday weekend. The government signaled a concern about extremely impaired driving, citing that the most common BAC level for drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 was 0.18, more than twice the legal limit.
“The latest numbers tell us people are not only making poor decisions and drinking and driving — they are getting deeply intoxicated before getting behind the wheel,” David L. Strickland, the NHTSA administrator, said in a news release.
Nationally, traffic crash fatalities and those involving drunk drivers have both decreased steadily from 2007 to 2010. Overall fatalities were down 23 percent in that period, while drunk driving crash fatalities were down 24 percent.
Officials spotlighted the most severe drunk driving crashes, or those involving at least one driver with a BAC of 0.15 or more. According to NHTSA statistics, 72 percent of impaired driving crashes in Ohio involved at least one driver with a BAC of 0.15 or more.
“We still have an epidemic out there,” said Doug Scoles, executive director of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter in Ohio. “What struck me about (Tuesday’s statistics) is that so many people think they can drive at that (BAC) level. We’ve been working to get the message out, but we have more work to do.”
Federal authorities have increased funding for traffic safety measures, including those involving impaired driving prevention, in recent years. From fiscal years 2006 to 2011, NHTSA boosted safety grant funding to states by 6 percent to $773.4 million. Funds for alcohol-related awareness and enforcement efforts increased from $118.3 million to $125.7 million in the same period, according to the NHTSA.
Perhaps the most well-known of those efforts, OVI (Operating a Vehicle while Impaired) Task Forces, include funds for both intermittent checkpoints as well as overtime hours for officers to patrol known trouble areas. Ohio has approved $1.98 million of its federal grant funds for 10 county-wide OVI Task Forces this year, including groups in Montgomery, Clark and Butler counties. Even though the task forces averaged one arrest for each 357 vehicles to pass through a checkpoint and one arrest for every 25 hours of extra patrols, officials have said increased awareness is the biggest goal of the task forces.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol stresses that drivers who have a BAC of less than 0.08 can still be impaired and may be charged with OVI after a field sobriety test, which can include heel-to-toe walking, standing on one leg and a “gaze test” that tracks involuntary eye movements. The “presumptive BAC level” for impairment is different for other groups, including 0.04 for commercial vehicle drivers and 0.02 for drivers under the age of 21.
Many officials have turned attention to technological advances in fighting drunk driving. Offenders face increased jail time, fines and license suspension periods for multiple offenses, and the MADD Ohio chapter has encouraged lawmakers to make an “ignition interlock” a greater part of the punishment. The device requires a passing breath test before allowing a car to start.

1 comment:

Andru Luka said...

Drunk driving can be very problematic for that person because it is opposite of rules and regulations. They can get huge penalty.

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